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Archive for May 9th, 2010

His [Joseph (Jay) Briseno Jr.] parents quit their jobs and drained their savings to take care of him after he came home from hospitals and rehabilitation centers.

Eva [his mother] takes care of “Jay” in her suburban Virginia home where the family room has been transformed into an intensive care unit, with the breathing machine and tubes he needs to stay alive.

Each day starts with two hours of bowel care, an ordeal as awful as it sounds. She labors over his body, brushing his teeth, suctioning fluid from his lungs, exercising his limp arms and legs, and turning him every other hour to prevent bedsores.

She sleeps a few hours at a time, when the schedule says it is her turn, often slumped in exhaustion by his side.

She has been out to dinner with her husband, Joseph Sr., once in seven years.

“Most patients in this kind of condition would not be able to live at home,” [The Brisenos] are doing an incredible job. They don’t take enough breaks. They’re almost too dedicated.”—Dr. Mitchell Wallin, neurologist at Georgetown University and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, DC.

“I do believe in miracles.… It’s not easy seeing your child be in this position. We are so proud of Jay and we thank God every single day that we have him.—Eva Briseno 

Happy Mother’s Day Mrs. Briseno and God bless you.

I.M. Kane


 

After Baghdad bullet, a son’s need, a mother’s love

By Marilynn Marchione

Mom turns home into ICU to care for severely wounded soldier son

There are mothers who will spend today missing sons and daughters fighting overseas. There are women who have lost children in those wars, for whom Mother’s Day will never be the same.

And then there is Eva Briseno.

Joseph Briseno Jr., Eva’s 27-year-old son, is one of the most severely wounded soldiers ever to survive. A bullet to the back of his head in a Baghdad marketplace in 2003 left him paralyzed, brain-damaged and blind, but awake and aware of his condition.

Eva takes care of “Jay” in her suburban Virginia home where the family room has been transformed into an intensive care unit, with the breathing machine and tubes he needs to stay alive.

Try to imagine this life.

Each day starts with two hours of bowel care, an ordeal as awful as it sounds. She labors over his body, brushing his teeth, suctioning fluid from his lungs, exercising his limp arms and legs, and turning him every other hour to prevent bedsores.

She sleeps a few hours at a time, when the schedule says it is her turn, often slumped in exhaustion by his side.

She has been out to dinner with her husband, Joseph Sr., once in seven years.

She could have a better life if she put Jay in a nursing home. Or if she went back to using the home health care nurses the government provided. But one looked indifferently without wiping Jay’s mouth when he drooled. Others fell asleep on the night shift, inattentive while Jay suffered seizures.

They’ll do it themselves

It’s hard for a mother to watch such lapses. The nurses don’t love Jay. His parents do. So they have chosen to care for him on their own, and you will not find them feeling sorry for themselves — only for him.

A lesser man would leave, Eva says of her spouse, whom she has known since grade school in their homeland, the Philippines. A lesser woman would cringe at the wound care and bodily indignities that Eva has learned to manage for her son, Joseph says.

“I can’t walk away from this. She can’t. I’m very proud of my wife,” he said.

What keeps Eva going is hope that stem cells or some future treatment advance will help her son.

“I do believe in miracles,” she says.

Yet desperation clouds her prayers. “Most of the time I ask God if I can take Jay’s place,” she confesses, unable to suppress a sob.

Hearing his mother, Jay cries too, the tears silently slipping from his blind eyes.

For Eva, the tears began the day Jay shipped out, on his 20th birthday in 2003. He was a student at George Mason University, hoping to become a forensic scientist. He had joined the Army Reserves and was surprised to be called up so soon. Eva took a cake to his unit before he left.

At first, she wasn’t very worried: Jay was assigned to civilian work, building community relations. A few months later, the call came. One of those civilians had shot Jay in the back of the head at point-blank range. His spinal cord was shattered, and cardiac arrests led to brain damage that left him unable to see or to speak more than an occasional word.

His family became a mass casualty of the wound.

Most care falls to mom

His parents quit their jobs and drained their savings to take care of him after he came home from hospitals and rehabilitation centers. His younger sisters, Malerie and Sherilyn, help when they can, and Joseph does a big share. But much of the care falls to Eva, a small, doe-eyed woman who weighs 100 pounds to Jay’s 147.

At first, she took care of Jay in the basement, using a hoist that some charities provided to lift him into a wheelchair and the shower. But descending those stairs became a descent into hell. After a while, Eva could no longer bear caring for him in that cavelike setting.

So they moved Jay upstairs, surrounding him with white walls, bright flowers and Washington Redskins gear so he will have cheerful things to look at in case he has glimmers of vision the doctors can’t detect.

Eva fills his days by reading him news stories, telling him how good he looks and how nicely he is dressed, and playing the “young people music” he likes on the radio. He grins when the Redskins win, or when Linkin Park, Eminem, Jay-Z or Beyonce are on. Others get a grimace.

“He doesn’t like Mariah Carey or Kelly Clarkson,” Eva laughs.

She reminisces about Jay as a teen who loved track and field, played pranks on his sisters, tested her nerves when he was learning to drive, and hosted parties with friends in that basement she now avoids.

Jay’s care requires a schedule with such military precision that trips to the grocery store or to church must be planned two days in advance.

Grueling schedule

It starts at 6 a.m., when Eva gives Jay medicines, logs his blood pressure and temperature, and begins his bowel care. That involves properly positioning him, giving suppositories and bathing him afterward. If it’s not done right, he can suffer obstruction or impaction, and they’ve been down that road before.

Next comes grooming, and cleaning the breathing tube that attaches to his respirator. By noon, Jay is dressed and into a wheelchair, a lunchtime sludge of nutrients draining into his feeding tube while he listens to the TV. Afternoons bring physical therapy and twice-weekly prayer sessions with a deacon who comes to their home.

At night, they give Jay breathing treatments, empty his urine bag and weigh its contents, because a change in volume can be a sign of trouble.

When taking care of such basic needs in babies, “you see them grow” and have the joy of watching them progress, Eva said. “Now, every day is the same,” and the only changes are bad ones, she said, starting to cry again.

A year ago, Jay had a setback and lost the ability to swallow. Two months ago, he suffered a nicked kidney and internal bleeding after an operation for kidney stones.

When the doctors showed Eva his big wound and how to care for it, “I thought at first, ‘I cannot do it,’” she said. But again, she rose to the occasion.

The degree of care the Brisenos provide is unusual, said Dr. Mitchell Wallin, one of Jay’s doctors and a neurologist at Georgetown University and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

“Most patients in this kind of condition would not be able to live at home,” Wallin said. The Brisenos “are doing an incredible job,” he said. “They don’t take enough breaks. They’re almost too dedicated.”

Jay’s father has a plan: forming his own home health care agency to supply nurses for Jay and other wounded veterans.

“The only way we can move on with our lives is to hire and interview, from the start, these nurses,” he said. “One of them straight up told us, ‘I’m in it for the money.’ We just looked at each other and said, ‘You’re in the wrong house. You’re not coming back here.’”

Still proud of his service

The Brisenos are proud of their son’s service despite the price they all pay for it now.

“This is the effects of war, its effects on families. War is ugly and the American people need to know this,” said Jay’s father, who spent 17 years in the Army himself.

Eva admits regret but also feels gratitude.

“Probably other mothers regret having their sons or daughters go to war, especially when they come home hurt. It’s not easy seeing your child be in this position,” she said. “We are so proud of Jay and we thank God every single day that we have him.”

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Tea party activists are now targeting the May 18 primary in Kentucky between GOP establishment candidate Secretary of State Trey Grayson and Rand Paul, son of former presidential candidate Ron Paul of Texas, who has the backing of tea party activists as well as former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, former GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes, and former Focus on the Family leader James Dobson.

South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint has endorsed Paul as part of an attempt to push the party rightward, calling him “a true conservative who will stand up to the Washington establishment.”

Last week, tea party activists failed to defeat a single incumbent in primaries in three states.

What a difference a week makes, eh Espo?

Go get ‘em guys!

I.M. Kane


 

Tea party, others focus on Kentucky after Utah

By David Espo

After toppling three-term Republican Sen. Robert F. Bennett in Utah, tea party activists and other conservative critics shifted their sights Sunday to a mid-May primary in Kentucky, their next big challenge to a political establishment they have vowed to upend.

Bennett, 76, left the door open to a write-in campaign after losing his bid for renomination, raising the possibility of an unpredictable three-way race that could yet extend his career.

But within minutes of Bennett’s defeat, the chairman of the Republican senatorial campaign committee, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, announced the organization will support the winner of a June 22 primary between businessman Tim Bridgewater and attorney Mike Lee.

Republicans are heavily favored to hold the seat in the fall in a state that hasn’t elected a Democratic senator in more than three decades.

In his home state, Republicans said Bennett’s defeat raised questions about the political future of Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, also a conservative, who may face a challenge from GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz in 2012.

Hatch has worked to protect his conservative flank carefully in the past year. His opposition to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the first time in a career of more than 30 years that he voted against a high-court nominee, and he pulled out of last year’s bipartisan talks on health care legislation shortly after they began.

Nationally, the events at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City marked a key moment in the struggle roiling Republicans, the demise of a veteran conservative, influential in the party’s inner councils in the Senate, tossed out in large measure because he voted for the financial bailout legislation of 2008.

“The whole reason I started the tea party (in Utah) was Sen. Bennett. He was the next one up for election,” said David Kirkham, who added that his opposition developed after the veteran lawmaker voted for the bailout President George W. Bush sought in late 2008.

Other critics said they were unhappy that Bennett had co-sponsored bipartisan legislation that would have required individuals to purchase health insurance, and noted he had once pledged to serve only two terms.

Whatever the grievances, a Salt Lake Tribune poll late last month found that about two-thirds of the delegates identified themselves as supporters of the tea party. About the same number said the group would help the Republicans at the polls this fall.

In addition, the Club for Growth, which supports candidates espousing conservative economic policies, spent nearly $200,000 to defeat Bennett. Freedom Works, which has ties to the loosely organized tea party groups, dispatched staff to the state.

In contrast to Utah, where about 3,500 party activists determined which candidates would qualify for the ballot, the May 18 contest in Kentucky is a traditional primary election, open to all registered Republicans.

There, Secretary of State Trey Grayson has the support of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Rep. Hal Rogers, a veteran lawmaker and dozens of local political leaders.

“I rarely endorse in primaries, but these are critical times,” McConnell said in a television ad that began airing in rent days. “President Obama’s spending threatens to destroy more jobs. … We need Trey’s conservative leadership to help turn back the Obama agenda.”

Grayson’s challenger, Rand Paul, the son of former presidential candidate Ron Paul of Texas, has the backing of tea party activists, as well as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes and — after a switch last week — evangelical leader James Dobson.

Additionally, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint has endorsed Paul as part of an attempt to push the party rightward, calling him “a true conservative who will stand up to the Washington establishment.”

“Rand is exactly the kind of leader Americans are looking for right now,” DeMint said. “He’s not a career politician and he’s got the guts to stand up to the massive spending, bailouts and debt that are being forced on us in Washington.”

While some public polls show Paul with a healthy lead, private surveys show a much closer race with more than two weeks remaining.

Earlier contests have produced mixed results for the insurgents.

Tea party activists are credited with helping one-time longshot Marco Rubio to a commanding position in the race for the Republican nomination for a Senate seat in Florida.

Gov. Charlie Crist, who began the campaign as the favorite, quit the party and is now running as an independent in an unpredictable three-way race.

Last week, tea party activists failed to defeat a single incumbent in primaries in three states. In Indiana, they and DeMint backed a losing rival to former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats, who is trying to mount a comeback.

DeMint was officially neutral in Utah. But he made no attempt to come to Bennett’s aid, and quickly endorsed Lee in a video shown to the convention delegates later in the day.

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Incumbent Senator Bob Bennett will not get a fourth term in office after delegates to Utah’s Republican convention refused to re-nominate him on Saturday.

“[I}t’s very clear that some of the votes that I have cast have added to the toxic environment.”—Senator Bob Bennett

Ya think so Bob? And how much political capital did you spend on the ole Washington warrior Mitt?

Now if only the Republicans in Arizona would start listening to their God-given common sense and stop blindly following the open and furtive endorsements of “conservative” sell-outs Sarah Palin, Dick Armey, Sean Hannity, Michael Medved, et al, and then they could vote out Megan McCain’s pseudo-conservative father and elect a genuine conservative like J.D. Hayworth to represent them.

Hello Bedford Falls! Merry Christmas, you wonderful GOP! Merry Christmas Mr. Soros!

Yippee!

I.M. Kane


 

Tea Party ousts veteran Republican Bob Bennett in Utah

By Andrew Clark

Senator deemed conservative by national standards deselected for being too moderate after campaign by grassroots movement

The conservative grassroots Tea Party movement claimed its first major scalp in the US political establishment yesterday as the veteran Republican senator Bob Bennett was deselected by delegates in his home state of Utah for being too moderate.

Bennett, 76, has been in office since 1992 and is an ally of the Republican senate leader, Mitch McConnell. His defeat at the hands of two political newcomers was partly due to anger over his support for the White House’s $700bn bailout of the banking system at the height of the global financial crisis.

Tea Party activists argue for a smaller government with less economic intervention and for conservative positions on guns, abortion and immigration in order to “take back” America. Their rise in influence is causing consternation for mainstream Democrats and Republicans alike.

Bennett was turfed out of office by coming a distant third in a ballot of 3,500 delegates in Salt Lake City. He got just under 27% of the vote, while challengers Mike Lee, a local businessman, and Tim Bridgewater, a lawyer, got 36% and 37% respectively.

Fighting back tears, Bennett said afterwards: “The political atmosphere obviously has been toxic, and it’s very clear that some of the votes that I have cast have added to the toxic environment.”

His defeat came despite a ringing endorsement from Mitt Romney, a former Republican presidential candidate who is a popular figure in Utah for his Mormon roots and his role in turning around the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Romney had urged delegates to stick with the veteran senator, praising his “skill and loyalty and power” to battle the “sweep and arrogance of the liberal onslaught” in Washington.

Although considered a conservative by most national standards, Bennett fell victim to a mood of dissatisfaction with incumbents and to a coalescence around core values in his ultra-Republican home state. His vote for the government’s injection of funds into banks proved contentious, as did his involvement in attempts to forge a bipartisan compromise on healthcare reform.

A free market pressure group, the Club for Growth, spent $200,000 (£135,000) campaigning to unseat Bennett. It criticised him for missing 30 votes in Washington this year, saying he had one of the worst attendance records in the senate.

Delegates waved yellow flags, hugged each other and shouted “he’s gone, he’s gone” when Bennett’s fate was sealed, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, which reported that a huge ovation swept through the convention hall. Bennett’s two challengers will fight for the safe Republican seat in a state-wide primary contest, before facing a Democratic opponent.

Lee, the candidate backed by most Tea Party campaigners, fought on the grounds that the US government is “too big, too expensive and too oppressive”. He said afterwards: “There is a mood that has swept across this country and has certainly swept across Utah that is demanding a new generation of leaders. Leaders committed to constitutionally limited government.”

Born out of a backlash against the Obama administration, Tea Party activists take their name from the anti-tax Boston tea party, and they revere populist figures such as Sarah Palin. The movement shot to prominence by aiding the election in January of a Republican senator, Scott Brown, in the Massachusetts seat left open by the death of the Democratic stalwart Ted Kennedy.

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The 4:29 video below shows a search warrant being served by Columbia, Missouri’s finest drug enforcement officers in February of this year. The video shows a Gestapo-like SWAT team doing what it’s trained to do: break down the door of a family home in the middle of the night, shoot two pets (an allegedly caged Pit Bull Terrier and a Welsh Corgi), and terrorize a 7-year-old child.  

“You’re making an entry into a home, and you don’t know what to expect in there. Do you really want officers dealing with the dog when the reason we went in with a tag team in the first place is because we believed there may have been an armed person inside?” said Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid during a May 6 news conference.

A police SWAT team breaks into a family’s home, opens fire inside the house killing one of their dogs and injuring the other while their seven-year-old son sleeps in an adjacent room, and the reason for levying the terrorist assault is a “belief” that there’s an armed person inside.

No proof! No confirmation! No intelligence information of a weapon, yet the police were more than willing to terrorize a family, kill and injure pets, and jeopardize the life of a child on the outside chance that there just might be a weapon.

As it turned out, the man inside wasn’t armed. Their midnight bust produced drug paraphernalia (a marijuana pipe containing resin and a grinder) and a small amount of marijuana (less than a few grams), nothing else.  

The victim pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia; the charges of misdemeanor marijuana possession and second-degree child endangerment were dropped in exchange for his plea. Child endangerment! They charged “him” with child endangerment! … Oh, the brain-numbing irony.  

Although the Missouri drug raid was “lawful,” such a term becomes meaningless when what is lawful means whatever the powerful says it means. It was “lawful” for FBI snipers to murder a mother in her home while holding a baby in her arms at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and “lawful” to murder “Christians” fleeing a burning building in Waco, Texas. And lest we forget, it was lawful for Hitler’s Gestapo in Nazi ruled Germany to round up Jews and send them off to concentration camps, but against the law to hide or help them.

Incidents like what happened in Columbia should never happen in a free country. Such incidents are why minorities fear and don’t trust the police and why those in the majority should do likewise.

I am overly troubled … I am deeply distraught …

I.M. Kane


 

Columbia Mo SWAT Raid 2/11/2010. Cops Shoot Pets With Children Present

Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America (Summary)

By Radley Balko

Americans have long maintained that a man’s home is his castle and that he has the right to defend it from unlawful intruders. Unfortunately, that right may be disappearing. Over the last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units (most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police work. The most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home.

These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects.

Balko’s “Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids,” provides a history and overview of paramilitary drug raids, including a listing of abuses and mistaken raids, and offers recommendations for reform.

Here is an interactive map of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids that accompanies Balko’s White Paper.

Balko blogs at TheAgitator.com.

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